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Grade 1 teacher Andrea Russell spoke to 18 IB Primary Years Program (PYP) educators from across the province during an IBSO Round Table on Igniting Student's Curiosity through Environmental Inquiry in the PYP.
June 7, 2017
Nature is the Classroom
Grade 1 teacher Andrea Russell wants teachers to "take it outside." That was her message to 18 IB Primary Years Program (PYP) educators from across the province who came to our campus for an IBSO Round Table on "Igniting Student's Curiosity through Environmental Inquiry in the PYP," where they learned new approaches to environmental education.

Ms Russell is the former coordinator for Natural Curiosity, a teacher resource from the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School (OISE, UofT) that helps elementary school teachers integrate the natural environment into the teaching of all subjects. "I want children to experience being comfortable in nature," she says.

Ms Russell is an experienced and passionate advocate of inquiry-based environmental education and has seen, first-hand, the wonderful learning that students experience when they go outdoors.

Leading the workshop on a rainy Toronto day, Ms Russell shared her extensive knowledge of outdoor learning with the visiting educators. Just one of her ideas for encouraging students to engage with the outdoor environment is to have students take hula-hoops into the woods, drop the hoop onto the ground, and then draw and study everything within the hoop.

What if teachers only have an asphalt schoolyard to work with?

"Make asphalt the problem to discuss," Ms Russell suggests. She encouraged educators to make use of local parks and parkettes, and to invite Indigenous teachers and elders into the classroom to share their traditional knowledge of our natural surroundings.

The educators in attendance found the workshop eye opening and appreciated the many new ideas for outdoor education that emerged.

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